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More than 175 industry professionals joined us for the Safe Meetings in Michigan Virtual Conference, held June 16-17. It was a truly fascinating learning experience, which sought to discuss and address the gorilla in the room; what would the future of conferences and meetings look like for the rest of 2020 and beyond?
These days, risk management is top of mind for association leaders. Last week, I had the opportunity to discuss event risk management with Jeff Tenenbaum. Jeff is one of the nation's leading association attorneys. He (literally) wrote the book on association tax compliance and currently sits on ASAE's Legal Advisory Council. Because Jeff is deeply involved in association issues, he's an excellent resource on some of the more complex and highly specific scenarios that associations are navigating.
During our conversation, Jeff made it clear that both associations and venues have a duty of care to host our members safely at face-to-face events in the context of COVID-19. He encourages associations to endeavor to obligate venues to take on significant, specific responsibilities to keep attendees safe - perhaps in the form of an addendum to the original contract that would, ideally, include indemnification of the association. (This may be more than venues are willing to do so we should expect some give and take on this.) Jeff also suggests it's a good idea to check in on your general commercial liability insurance policy to ensure that it contains legal defense coverage. All the better if the venue will also name the association in its general commercial liability policy.
COVID-19 has completely changed how members view meetings and events. For as long as there are still new cases across the country, potential conference attendees are going to hesitate to join a few hundred (or thousand) of their peers in a singular location and sit in big rooms with other people. While we’re certainly headed in the right direction in many locations (particularly Michigan!), we’re not anywhere close to being out of the woods.
Given the uncertainty of the pandemic, ORGPRO was always going to look different in 2020. On our call, we went over why we’re offering a hybrid conference, with a virtual experience to complement the option of attending in-person. The conversation was enlightening in a variety of ways, but in two polls we conducted during the call, it was clear that many executives share similar attitudes and concerns about the future of their events.
As you likely know by now, MSAE has convened a Safe Meetings in Michigan (SMIM) Work Group.
· This is a short-term work group whose purpose is to develop recommendations/guidelines for groups of 10 – 10,000 to meet safely.
· We know how important hospitality/tourism/events are to Michigan’s economy and to the missions of our respective organizations.
· SMIM is comprised of representatives from some of Michigan’s largest organizations representing health, tourism, meetings and trade associations.
*The Following is Contributed Content*
In northern Michigan, several resorts and hotels are working together to ensure associations can continue to meet member's needs well into a post-COVID market.
Mission Point on Mackinac Island recently took the initiative in beginning conversations with surrounding resorts like Shanty Creek in Bellaire and Boyne Resorts to adapt to the changing landscape determining how to work together in their clients' best interests.
Michigan Venture Capital Association (MVCA), the nonprofit trade association that advocates for increases in the amount of capital and talent for Michigan’s entrepreneurial and investment community, announced today the release of the 2020 MVCA Research Report, a comprehensive analysis of investment activity in the state.
Chief staff executives of associations now find themselves in between a rock a hard place when it comes to the impact of COVID-19 and seeking relief from the federal government. Should we apply for aid for our associations or will people view our doing so as a failure in management or an ethical lapse? Here are some things to consider when deciding whether or not to apply for assistance:
We don't know how long we will be operating under the Governor's Stay Safe Stay Home Executive Order nor how long the nation will be under pandemic guidelines. This means we cannot predict when our members' businesses will return to normal nor when our own business will return to normal.